It is said that you never forget how to ride a bike. For Dick Polen, it’s not so much about forgetting, but about the challenges of an injury. In 2005, Polen slipped and fell in a bath tub. His accident led to an infected bone that started with a diabetic foot ulcer. “I was given two choices: let gangrene set in or amputate. There really wasn’t a choice,” said Polen. His left leg was amputated below the knee. He completed five weeks of rehabilitation for his new prosthetic leg but felt like he needed something more: “I learned how to get around with my prosthesis and get better balance, but I wanted to learn how to keep my balance.”
That’s when Polen learned about the Rehabilitation and Wellness Clinics at Nazareth College. His therapy is part of a unique collaboration between Nazareth’s department of physical therapy and Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) Kate Gleason College of Engineering. RIT engineering students are given an opportunity to complete a project from start to finish by designing therapeutic equipment to meet the needs of the patients of Nazareth’s physical therapy clinics.